bohemians, Dandies fervently rejected bourgeois values.
They had a similar, carefree, indolent lifestyle and like
Bohemians, seemed to belong nowhere in society. However,
unlike bohemians, Dandies chose to emulate the aristocracy
rather than live in poverty. Despite these differences,
the Bohemia and Dandyism often merged.
famous dandy, Baudelaire, commented
that the dandies had "no profession other than elegance...no
other status but that of cultivating the idea of beauty
in their own persons....The dandy must aspire to be sublime
without interruption; he must live and sleep before a mirror."
imitation: Dandies lacked
noble blood, connections, and any innate characteristics of
aristocracy. They were
like actors living out fantasies that could never come true,
adopting outward characteristics that aided in this public
and personal deception.
and the latest fashion was everything to a Dandy. They delighted
in elegance and accessories such as white gloves, etc. A significant
part of their day was spent grooming; Baudelaire claimed that
he always spent at least two hours at his toilette. They also
believed strongly in cleanliness; most probably bathed regularly.
Dandyism was largely defined by a self-cultivated personality.
As Hugo observed, Dandies thought
of themselves as " . . . gentlemen in a barroom, who
talk about 'my fields, my woods, my peasants,' hiss the actresses
at the theatre to prove that they are persons of taste, quarrel
with the officers of the garrison, to show that they are gallant,
. . ." (Hugo, 163)
These haughty attitudes reinforced their outward aristocratic
appearance. They developed the "bearing, pretension,
and disdain" common to nobility. (Seigel,
99) Houssaye described one dandy-like character he met
as being a " born unbeliever who mocked everything"
and "completed all his phrases with clever little
conceits." (Knepler, 25,26)
courtesy of bohemiabooks.com
image shows two 1830's dandies. Their elegant clothing,
arrogant expressions and posture show how they emulated
the dress and mannerisms of the aristocracy.
Idleness: Dandies had the time and the money to devote
to living extravagantly. They were wealthier than Bohemians,
having enough to live without employment. Many were owners
of large inheritances. They never sought to earn or gain more
wealth but lived in constant risk of losing their wealth,
gambling and squandering carelessly. According to Hugo,
a typical dandy would "hunt, smoke, gape, drink, take
snuff, play billiards, stare at passengers getting out of
the coach, live at the cafe, dine at the inn, . . . grow stupid
as they grow old, do no work, do no good, and not much harm."
(Hugo, 163) This decadent lifestyle
forced many dandies, including Baudelaire,
into a life of poverty and to become, in effect, their bohemian
Merging of Bohemia
and Dandyism: These
two seemingly different worlds very often mingled. Dandies
befriended Bohemians and frequented the same cafes. While
many dandies were forced to live a bohemian lifestyle, bohemians
sometimes adopted dandy ways. Murger
sometimes dressed as a dandy for fun; he once convinced a
friend to follow suit and afterward go to their usual, seedy
observed two companions, a bohemian and a dandy, and said
of them: "If they shared the same kind of life, that
is the same chance existence, the same love of inactivity,
the same appetite for celebrity," they were different
in that "one was handsome and given to elegance, the
other prided himself on being ugly and affected a careless
exterior." (Seigel, 104)
and dandies affected different attitudes and adopted slightly
different lifestyles, there was still a fine line between
a dandy and a bohemian. They were closely related and they
both lived their lives in rejection of a bourgeois life.